Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Garden Commune

We branched out into a new venture at work today--the communal company garden. My boss plants a sizeable garden each year, to the point that I'm pretty sure she had the equivalent of a small farm's worth of tomatoes last year. She didn't cage them and it was like a tiny Heart of Darkness in the middle of the lawn. This year we've taken a more commonsense approach and decided that we'll each weed, harvest, or otherwise pitch in a few times a week for a fair share of the harvest.

Today we picked kale, chard, and green beans. We ate the kale, prepared like wilted spinach, with dinner tonight, along with fresh tomato salad. I've decided that feta is preferable to the traditional mozzerella in a summery tomato salad; I get a little bored with the dull palette of mozzerella. It seems like the ripe tomato, biting balsamic, and fragrant basil have little need for the blank sponge that is fresh mozzerella. But that's just my opinion; it's summer, so anything goes with produce.

I think this will be a nice change of pace. Sometime around 2, when I've already had lunch and 5 pm seems a long way off, I can escape a little while and weed a row or two. After all, how many offices let you spend time outdoors doing something literally productive? How many working a 9 to 5 job actually get to have a hand in what they eat for dinner? All I know is, I'm excited to try the chard tomorrow night.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Honey Mustard Chicken Wild Rice Salad

I bought a dress tonight. It was frivolous and femininely froth-headed to do so, but I'm allowed once in a while to be frivolous and feminine. The dress is emerald-green silk. I don't know where I'll wear it. There's perhaps nothing in the world so indulgent as a dress without an occasion. An occasion will come, a wedding or cocktail party, and then the dress will get worn and will loose some of its mystique. I will either become tired of it or it will tire of me. For now it's simply a beguiling, somwhat guilty, extravagance.

Tomorrow is monthly Wine Friday at work. I consider myself lucky to work somewhere that takes itself unseriously enough to mandate a monthly Wine Friday. Sometimes it's Margarita Monday, and, once, Tequila Tuesday. (Tequila Tuesday was an extreme situation and we were all under quite a bit of stress.) Generally, it's Wine Friday and is accompanied by a pitch-in lunch, for which I've made an encore presentation of Honey Mustard Chicken Wild Rice Salad. Honey Mustard Chicken Wild Rice Salad really needs a new name, because it's too much of a mouthful, but my co-worker's label of "That Chicken Stuff" doesn't suit it very well, either.
Honey Mustard Chicken Wild Rice Salad (until a better name comes along)
Cook one decent-sized chicken breast completely. I simmer it in a pan with sauteed garlic, chicken broth, and little orange juice. Shred {ie attack with two forks until in shreds). Prepare Long Grain and Wild Rice (I used Rice-a-Roni; the San Francisco Treat is pretty convenient). Mix rice and chicken, and add a can of mandarin oranges, half a red onion, chopped, and a handful of dried cranberries. Douse with honey mustard dressing (Marzetto's Honey Dijon is a nice one).

Monday, July 21, 2008


I vacuumed slightly less than a cubic foot of solid cat fur tonight. This goes to show two things. One, people with allergies should probably don a biohazard suit before coming within a ten-foot radius of my front door. Two, the first thing anyone should purchase oneself before "taking up housekeeping," as Louisa May Alcott would say, is a Dyson vacuum. Especially if pets are in the picture.

I love my cats, I really do. I love cats in general. I have to resist the temptation to foster every stray cat that comes to my door--and a good thing, too. I would have stolen two of my neighbors' cats by now. I fail at resisting the temptation to feed them, however, and so they keep coming around. But then again, I've always had cats around, so it's a homey, comfortable thing to have. My first word, apparently, was "kitty." This was probably rote memorization and repetition founded primarily on my mother's "No Kitty! Bad Kitty! Down Kitty! Bad Kitty!" rather than an instinctual lean towards felines, but I think it's significant nonetheless.

But despite the fact that they're pesky, shedding creatures with a tendency toward maiowing constantly while shunning your lap, I enjoy them. My husband's best friend's mother ascribes all sorts of human traits to cats, and though I think she goes a bit far (they have people names and people habits and look, to her, like certain people, hence how they come by their people names) they are uncannily knowing sometimes. They look at you, blandly, as though to say "Really, I thought you were above that. Back to washing my face, I suppose." If they made jokes, they would be dry. If they voiced opinions, they would be distant. The only thing keeping them from being too aloof is the fact that they shed embarrasing amounts of fur, and occasionally are moved to hurk something up on the carpet at inoportune moments.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Song in head, Beer in hand.

I get songs caught in my head very, very easily. Right now it's
I'll eat when I am hungry and I'll drink when I am dry,
Get drunk whenever I'm ready, get sober by and by,
And if this river don't drown me, it's down I'll mean to roam,
For I'm a river driver and I'm far away from home.
It could be partially that it's a lovely, cooling evening with textured clouds coloring the sky, and I'm drinking a cold beer and getting a little homesick for white canvas and low-lying embers in fire pits. I'm thinking about the quiet repose after a long day and a satisfying dinner, before the boisterous racket of nightime carousing begins. How the eighteenth-century shoes get changed for sandals, but the breeches and navy jackets stay on, and how the women take off their caps and shake out their hair. Guitar cases start emerging from tents littered with modern sleeping bags and Revolutionary War paraphenalia. Music begins, all else ceases. Two hundred years ago and last weekend rolled into an anachronistic memory shared by a select few living history nuts.
Here’s a health to the company and one to my lass
Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass
Let us drink and be merry all grief to refrain
For we may and might never all meet here again

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Toilet Brush

I just noticed drumming on the roof, a memo that the forecasted cold front has arrived at last and maybe it won't be so hot tomorrow. Today was like walking through soup. A broth-based soup, admittedly, but soup nonetheless. Maybe in August we'll get some real cream of chicken and hearty pea soup days, but this was bad enough. I'm suprised Midwesterners haven't started evolving gills by now--between the torrents of rain all spring and the 100% humidity, they might come in handy.

My husband's friend from Germany is dropping in tomorrow in the middle of his cross-country drive from New York to Colorado. I find it very amusing that our guest bedroom is also my study, and that all the bedding is left over from my single days. And it's very flowery. The comforter is rose-woven tapestry, there is a filmy sage curtain on the window, there are floral Redouté prints on the wall. The nightstand is stacked hatboxes. The best part? The only people who have stayed here are men. Ha. I should install a shadowbox filled with those creepy Precious Moments figurines to complete the ambience of haunted Great Aunt Hilda's room.

Anyway, I feel a little bad for Ralf driving through rain and staying in my emasculating guest room, but mostly I feel like I need to clean the toilet before he gets here. I have a weird obsession with never presenting a dirty toilet to guests. As though that would cause them to judge me and my housekeeping abilities and render an immoveable judgement of slovenly sow upon me. So I need to go weild a toilet brush now.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Like Bernice

We bought patio furniture (cheap, ugly, servicable stuff that works with our shoddy, rented patio) and I've been spending free moments reading (On Writing Well, and little case studies as advised by the Misters Strunk and White) and jotting things down out there instead of posting. I quite desperately want a laptop, and then I could access ye olde webernet from said shoddy patio, but as long as this old behemoth is kicking, the upgrade is a pipe dream. Especially when one considers the other replacements that are of mutual spousal interest, such as a television to replace the one currently on the fritz and saving for a car to replace the microvan. Someday I'll explain, in more detail, the microvan, but that's best left off for now.

In other news, Bernice bobbed her hair, the role of Bernice being played by myself and the role of the barber being played by a friend of a friend. The setting? Not the masculine barbershop, but a kitchen, and the price was a couple of hours of painting trim. We cut most of it off, but it's still long enough to pin up, with fetching bangs. Fetching, because the look is a sort of nouveau vintage, and fetching is a sort of vieux vintage word. It's not, like Bernice's, ugly as sin, at least in most people's opinion. I think my father wanted to cry when he saw it.